But with no historic record of Adelie penguins ever visiting this part of the icy continent, the researchers were at a loss as to why so many bodies were found.

Dr Emslie, who has an extensive background in paleoecology – the study of how organisms interact with the environment – has never seen anything like it.

He said: “We excavated into three of these mounds, using methods similar to archaeologists, to recover preserved tissues of penguin bone, feather, and eggshell, as well as hard parts of prey from the guano (fish bones, otoliths).

“The soil was very dry and dusty, just as I’ve found at other very old sites I’ve worked on in the Ross Sea, and also had abundant penguin remains in them.


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